Democracy Maps

Democracy Maps Updates: May 2024

Democracy Maps
6 min readMay 1, 2024

MAP’s newest project, the Democracy Maps, tracks more than 50 laws and policies related to elections and voting. Our maps are updated in real time as legislatures across the country pass laws that impact voting, elections, and our democracy.

These are the Democracy Maps updates as of May 1, 2024.

▸▸ State Policy Updates

Laws Protecting Election Officials from Threats

In the aftermath of increased threats aimed at election officials following the 2020 election, states continue to focus on implementing protections for those charged with administering our elections. So far in the 2024 legislative session, Indiana, Maryland, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin have all passed laws explicitly intended to protect election officials from threats and intimidation. Washington’s legislation adds additional criminal penalties to their existing law, while the other four states are all implementing these protections for the first time.

Democracy Map: Laws Protecting Election Officials Against Threats (via MAP)

As a result, 16 states now have laws explicitly intended to protect election officials from threats and intimidation. These additional protections may include increased criminal penalties for threatening or harassing officials, interfering with officials in the performance of their duties, or allowing officials to have their personal information exempted from public records. All of these laws have been put in place since the 2020 election.

Third Party Ballot Collection

Third party ballot collection, which is also referred to by policy opponents as “ballot harvesting,” refers to a voter allowing another individual to return their completed ballot. MAP’s Democracy Map categorizes state laws on ballot collection based on how burdensome the process is for voters. In states with enacted laws, restrictions on ballot collection can disproportionately affect Native American voters, disabled voters, and other voters, like those living in remote locations.

This year, Alabama and Idaho have passed laws implementing new restrictions on third party ballot collection.

  • Alabama’s law expands existing prohibitions on ballot collection to apply to ballot applications and provides for a criminal penalty.
  • Idaho’s law creates restrictions on ballot collection for the first time in the state, including limiting third-party ballot return to a voter’s relative, household member or caregiver, in addition to imposing criminal penalties.

With these new enactments, MAP now categorizes 29 states as having overly restrictive laws related to third party ballot collection, representing 60% of all eligible voters across the country. An additional five states go even further by only allowing the voter to return their mail ballot.

Bans on Private Funding of Election Administration

Beginning in 2021, a number of states enacted bans on the private funding of election administration offices, while disregarding the gaps in funding that led to the need for the grants in 2020.

Background context — During the 2020 election cycle, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, philanthropists recognized a need for additional funding for election offices. These grants were available to any election jurisdiction, and over 2,500 individual offices received additional funding to increase their staffing, training, and available equipment and to conduct safe elections, despite the pandemic. All funds were required to be used exclusively for the public purpose of planning and operationalizing safe and secure election administration.

This trend has continued with Louisiana approving a constitutional amendment banning private funding for elections in 2023. Wisconsin followed suit in 2024, with a similar ban enacted through a referred ballot measure.

As a result, a majority of states now have these bans in place, representing 55% of all eligible voters. Given that state and local election offices still rely on inconsistent and limited federal funding for election administration offices, gaps in resources are likely to persist through the 2024 election, especially in states that have closed off avenues for philanthropic support.

Voting Rights for Formerly Incarcerated People

The United States has one of the highest rates of incarceration in the industrialized world. Each state has laws that delineate who is eligible to vote, and almost all states restrict voting for those who are currently incarcerated for a felony offense — although a few states allow citizens to vote while incarcerated. The reality is that disenfranchising people who have been charged with certain crimes is another form of voter suppression, especially with the extremely high incarceration rates.

States’ policies diverge significantly on the question of when and how formerly incarcerated people can have their voting rights restored:

  • In some states, certain felony convictions result in losing voting rights for life.
  • Other states require certain steps to restore voting rights, such as full payment of fines and fees related to criminal convictions. However, to do so, individuals often rely on systems that are very difficult to navigate, and financial barriers may prevent an otherwise eligible voter from regaining their voting rights.

The latter policy trend has been growing in the past year. In 2023, Minnesota and New Mexico both implemented automatic restoration of voting rights upon release from incarceration. So far in 2024, Nebraska has led the way by removing the previous requirement in the state that required formerly incarcerated people to undergo a two-year waiting period before having their rights restored. The previous law was one of the most restrictive in the country.

Democracy Map: Voting Rights for Formerly Incarcerated People (via MAP)

Including these recently enacted laws, 15 states now restore voting rights to eligible people upon completion of their full sentence, including probation and parole.

Membership in the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC)

Starting in 2022, conservative states began withdrawing from the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC), a nonpartisan organization that assists states in maintaining voter registration lists. The exodus of withdrawals was the result of a right-wing misinformation campaign, despite ERIC being considered the best tool available to maintain accurate lists and prevent potential voter fraud. Due to these withdrawals, almost 60% of all eligible voters now live in the 26 states that are not members of ERIC.

Democracy Map: Membership in Electronic Registration Information Center (via MAP)

The trend continues in 2024: Kentucky recently enacted a law, over the governor’s veto, which will lead to the state withdrawing from ERIC in 2025. Virginia’s governor also vetoed legislation that would have required the state to rejoin ERIC following its withdrawal in 2023.

In positive news, the legislatures in Hawaii and New York are currently advancing bills that would lead to the states joining ERIC in the future.

▸▸ MAP Policy Research Updates

Leading up to the 2024 elections, MAP’s policy team is releasing reports and briefs that detail major voting trends and the landscape of laws and policies affecting our democracy.

Earlier this year, the Democracy Maps published a new report examining specific barriers that young voters face. An estimated 53 million voters under 30 will be eligible to vote this year, including an estimated 8 million young people who have become newly eligible to vote since the 2022 midterm elections.

The report, A Silenced Generation: How the Power of the Youth Vote Collides with Barriers to Voting outlines what states can do to support young voters, and how each state’s election policies impact this important demographic.

In March, MAP released a comprehensive report that details how, across virtually every aspect of life, Americans’ freedoms are under attack. In Freedom Under Fire: the Far Right’s Battle to Control America, a series of extremist attacks are clearly outlined, including attempts to restrict the right to vote and participation in free and fair elections. Read more in the full report here.

▸▸ More from Democracy Maps

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Democracy Maps

Democracy Maps tracks more than 50 laws and policies on elections and voting. Project of Movement Advancement Project, an independent, nonprofit think tank.